Decrease capital expenditure (CapEx) by managing stormwater and sewer overflows the easy way
By Matthew Gordon
With rapid urbanisation and increased population growth, plus the frequency of severe weather conditions brought about by climate change, UK water companies are faced with several storm water overflow challenges. Heavy rainfall can overwhelm water catchment systems, combine with sewage water, and inundate urban areas or be released into bodies of water, thus polluting the environment.
From April 2019 to March 2020 alone, UK companies invested around £132 million to reduce the risk of sewer flooding to properties, £300 million to maintain the public sewer system, and £2 million in property-level protection.
Rather than rely on new infrastructure to improve their operations, the AQUADVANCED® Urban Drainage tool by SUEZ is helping these companies efficiently achieve improvements in their discharge targets by working with their current system. It is at the forefront of helping water companies in the UK and Europe to optimise investment and manage operational costs for wastewater collection systems.
AQUADVANCED® Urban Drainage monitors, provides operator guidance, and can even automate daily sewer system management to achieve smoother plant inflows and overflow minimisation. It can detect potential blockages before they create issues, identify asset performance issues, and improve environmental protection.
When implemented with rain forecasting, like rain-radar nowcasting data (or short-term forecasting for up to two hours), it can predict infiltration and inflow within each catchment area. Operators can also use this to work out the right time to employ storm tanks and controllable overflows, or when to pump out permitted amount of sewage in waterways to prevent uncontrolled events in areas of environmental concern.
Water companies that have implemented the software suite have reported benefits from the varying layers of control the suite offers, whether it's for monitoring, predictive analytics, or advanced control. The software effectively makes the most of existing water management infrastructure and empowers the decision-making powers of operators and service managers.
This integrated sewer and stormwater system management software can work with existing network systems, including any supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system, hydraulic models, rainfall data and IoT (Internet of Things) data sources. It is vendor agnostic and designed to be easy to configure to achieve data input from a wide variety of sources. Reported benefits achieved include improved operations, reduced discharges, and better flow management into the plants. When configured with rainfall now casting the ability to forecast upcoming weather events and how these will impact the collection system allows operators to make informed decisions. In the event of overwhelming inflows, the utility can show that the best possible outcome was achieved in any regulatory reporting.
The AQUADVANCED® Urban Drainage system in Biarritz France is an example where fully automated management of the sewer and stormwater systems of the network was implemented. Through a user-friendly interface directly linked to the company’s SCADA system, operators have access to detailed and continuous overview of their infrastructure, such as hydraulics performance monitoring.
Operators are also able to monitor the weather through the software's real-time calculation of rainfall impact on the sewerage system. The software directly controls optimised operating strategies that ensure the best use of storage capacities while minimising flooding and overflows.
The Biarritz experience resulted in increased storage utilisation, a 50% reduction in storage tanks' emptying time. The software also provided better interception of the first wave of water volume using advanced computational systems and data analytics. The main outcome of all of this was a 35% reduction in volumes spilled into the receiving environment.
Similarly, in Saint-Etienne in France, daily usage of the software resulted in the overall decrease in volumes of water spilled and an increase in volumes processed by the plant. For rainfall frequencies of less than 6 months per year, we have seen a reduction of more than 35% in discharges to the natural environment since its commissioning in 2014.
The UK water industry has the same issues and very similar network infrastructure and access to data sources, like rain radar now-casting, as continental Europe. With the implementation of smart tools, like AQUADVANCED® Urban Drainage, water companies can de-risk their operations while they optimise implementing longer term capex-based solutions.